Heat sends crowd off deep end

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By Diana Oleszczuk

The pools were the place to be last weekend. Hot weather has pushed June attendance at Ridgeland Common and Rehm Pool to the highest levels since 1998, said Bill Hamilton, the park district's revenue facilities manager, and last weekend's temperatures drove even more swimmers to the water.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, pool attendance at Rehm Pool and Ridgeland Common was 8,812, almost quadrupled from the 2,478 of this weekend last year. Total attendance figures for the year so far have more than doubled, with 25,194 swimmers as of this weekend compared to 12,853 at this point last year. Hamilton says it's a welcome change, since the last two seasons have been some of their worst.

Pool attendance hasn't been so high since 1998, says Hamilton. "We've haven't seen numbers like this for a long time," he said. "It's just heat, they come when it's hot."

A series of 90-degree days created a rush to cool off in the water. "We are certainly up, attendance-wise and pass sale-wise," Hamilton said. "We're having a good summer." Usually, pool pass sales drop off by the end of June, but according to Hamilton, this summer, "we're still selling at a good clip." The pool sales rank at "far above" normal this year, he says.

Pool workers also noticed the extra crowds on the weekend. "It was extremely busy this weekend, definitely Friday and Saturday," said Rory Joyce, who works at Ridgeland Common. "This is the heart of the season." Crowds this weekend outnumbered the pool rush season of the last three years, Joyce said, because the last two summers have been milder, while this summer has been a scorcher, even though it's still just June. "I think weather is a dominant factor," Joyce said.



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